Burning bush (Euonymus alata), also known as winged euonymus or winged spindle tree, is a dense, spreading, multi-stemmed shrub aptly named for its fiery red foliage color in the autumn. It invades a variety of habitat types, including forest, woodlands, and coastal scrublands. Native to northeastern Asia, burning bush was introduced to the United States around 1860 as an ornamental, and was especially popular for plantings along highways, as hedgerows, and adjacent to foundations. It has spread throughout many of the eastern and midwestern states.
Burning bush has conspicuously winged angled stems bearing deciduous, dark green, opposite oval leaves. In the autumn, the leaves change to a bright, fiery red. Its small, inconspicuous green flowers bloom in the late spring, developing into reddish-purple fruits in the summer. Birds consume the fruit and widely distribute its abundant seed. In North Carolina, burning bush has been observed in the Mountains and Piedmont.
Fact Sheet: Burning Bush